John 7 – Yeshua And Sukkot


After this, Yeshua went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill Him. John wanted us to know that even though Yeshua was the Son of Man – perfect human being, and the Messiah, and the Son of God, and worthy of honor, devotion and loyalty, Yeshua was so despised and rejected by men that the leaders of the Chosen People were trying to find a way to kill Him.

And it wasn’t just the leaders: even His own family, the people who knew Him the best and should have believed in Him the most, didn’t believe in Him. But when the Jewish Holiday of Tabernacles was near, Yeshua’ brothers said to Him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that Your disciples there may see the works You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His own brothers did not believe in Him.

Jewish men were required to go up to Jerusalem and worship at the temple during Sukkot. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands would be there for the holiday. Yeshua’s brothers knew that Jerusalem was the religious center, and they challenged Him, if He believed He was so special, to go prove Himself to those at the center – not remain in the north. They challenged Him in this way because they didn’t believe in Him and were making fun of Him.

People’s attitude toward Yeshua has consequences – for themselves and for others: the unbelief of Yeshua’s family limited their opportunities to benefit from the ministry of the Son of God. The murderous intent of the leaders caused Yeshua to leave Judea, which was closer to the center of their power, and head north to Galilee, lessening the opportunities of the people in Judea to be blessed by Yeshua. Wicked leaders drive out blessings – Yeshua being the greatest blessing of all. Right now, we have a lot of wicked leaders. We want to do everything we can to make sure we replace them with righteous leaders, or we may forfeit more of our blessings, which have already been slipping away.

Yeshua knew that if He went to Jerusalem in a public way at the beginning of Sukkot, the leaders would try to kill Him, and it wasn’t the right time for Him to die. It was God’s plan for Him to die at Passover, not Sukkot. Therefore Yeshua told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the holiday. I am not going up to this holiday (meaning right then), because My time has not yet fully come.”

Why did the leaders hate Yeshua? One reason is because, unlike many religious leaders, Yeshua did not only tell people pleasant truths (God loves you and wants you to go to Heaven), He also told them unpleasant truths they needed to hear. He confronted the sins of His generation, especially the sins of the leaders. He told them the truth – that they were far from God; they didn’t understand the Torah; they were religious hypocrites who appeared godly on the outside but were inwardly corrupt, and prostitutes would enter Heaven before they would.

Christians and Messianic Jews should follow Messiah’s example. We must not only proclaim the Good News, and teach people about God and the Bible and salvation and Heaven; we must also speak out against the sins of our generation: abortion, harvesting the body parts of children in the womb, the normalization of sexual perversions, pornography, divorce without biblical grounds, having children outside of marriage; drug and alcohol abuse, living beyond our means and the corruption of our financial system. May God give us the grace to tell people the bad news as well as the Good News, amen?

After He had said this, He stayed in Galilee. However, after His brothers had left for the holiday, He went also, not publicly, but in secret.

John wanted us to know that Yeshua had made a tremendous impact on the entire nation; but there various opinions about Him. There was a mixture of right, wrong and confused ideas about Him – as there still are today.

The leaders were wrong about Yeshua. Now at the holiday the Jewish leaders were watching for Yeshua and asking, “Where is He?” Virtually all the leaders had already made their decision about Yeshua. They rejected Him and His claims about Himself and wanted to find Him and kill Him.

The crowds had various opinions about Yeshua, which they kept from the leaders in order not to arouse their anger against them. Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about Him. Some said, “He is a good man.” And they were right. Yeshua was, and is, a good man who should be respected and believed. Others replied, “No, He deceives the people.” That group was wrong and needed to have their understanding of Yeshua corrected. But no one would say anything publicly about Him for fear of the leaders.

The most important, the most necessary thing for a person to do in this life is understand who Yeshua is and make a commitment to become loyal to Him and hold fast to that commitment. Yeshua understood this, and during this major holiday, even though He was facing great danger from the leaders, Yeshua continued to help people understand who He is so they could give Him their loyalty. The first thing He did was teach the nation, in a very public way, in the center of the religious world of Israel, revealing that He was a tremendously wise, gifted and courageous Rabbi. Not until halfway through the holiday did Yeshua go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jewish people there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” I love this about Yeshua – that He was in the temple, the center of the Jewish religion, courageously and powerfully teaching us the truth. That’s where He belonged then, and that’s where He belongs now, at the center of Judaism, and that’s where He will be, one day.

It was obvious from Yeshua’s teaching that He had a profound understanding about the Word of God; and the fact that He got His great wisdom apart from the religious educational establishment made His understanding even more remarkable.

If Yeshua didn’t get His wisdom from other rabbis, where did He get it? From Someone infinitely superior to the rabbis: Yeshua answered, “My teaching is not My own. It comes from the one who sent Me. Yeshua claimed that His teaching came directly from God Himself; that He was so close to God that He was able to hear from God, learn from God; that God the Father was His teacher.

Only a select handful of human beings have ever been able to hear from God like this – the prophets, so this was quite a claim. Yeshua knew that and made it clear that it was possible to know if His claim was true: Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own. Yeshua promised that anyone who made a commitment to end their part in the great rebellion against God, and made a decision to do God’s will, to do what God wants, the spiritual understanding of that person will be enlarged; he will get in sync with God. He will know that Yeshua is faithful to God and the Word of God. The people of Israel needed to make that commitment to put the will of God above their will – as do we. Amen?

People who are motivated by self-interest are willing to corrupt the truth to advance their selfish goals. Yeshua claimed that His sole motivation was to honor God, not Himself, and therefore He could never distort the truth. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Didn’t the people want to believe Someone whose sole motivation was to please God and therefore always spoke the truth? Don’t we?

Yeshua told the crowd, which included some leaders, that all of them were guilty of breaking the law, yet they were not trying to bring the death penalty against each other for those violations. So why were they trying to execute Him, especially since He was sinless and never broke any of laws? That was hypocritical and unjust. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill Me?”

The crowd, who was ignorant about the decision of the leaders to eliminate Yeshua, accused Him of speaking crazy things like a demon-possessed man would. “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill You?” But Yeshua was not possessed by demons, and is never wrong or out of touch with reality. May God give us the humility so that we never think we know more than the Son of God about anything. Amen?

Yeshua informed the crowd that one of the reasons why the leaders rejected Him was because He healed a man on the Sabbath; and He explained why healing a man on the Sabbath was not a violation of the Torah. Yeshua said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with Me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? If a medical procedure like circumcision, which focuses on one part of the body, if done on the Sabbath, is not a violation of the Sabbath, then healing an entire body, which is greater, cannot be a violation of the Sabbath. Yeshua was not a Sabbath breaker and the leaders were wrong to be angry with Him for that. And, the people needed to understand that this miracle was a sign of God’s approval of Yeshua, because normally God only allows Someone He approves of to do miracles. The leaders and the people should approve of Yeshua, like God did – and so should we.

Yeshua challenged the people to think more deeply about these issues, and receive His teaching and His correction so they could make the right decisions. Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. And, we need to do the same – receive teaching and correction from Yeshua so we can make the right decisions. Amen?

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here He is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to Him. Have the authorities really concluded that He is the Messiah? Some of the Jerusalemites, who knew more about the political situation surrounding Yeshua, because Yeshua was teaching publicly and was being unopposed, were wondering if the leaders had changed their minds about Yeshua, and were acknowledging Him as the Messiah. If that was true, it would be a dramatic change with the profoundest implications for the nation.

These same Jerusalemites had the mistaken idea that the Messiah would be a man of mysterious origins, and since they thought they knew where Yeshua was from – Nazareth, they concluded that Yeshua couldn’t possibly be the Messiah. But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where He is from.

Yeshua must have known that some were confused about His origin and He wanted to clear up any confusion. Then Yeshua, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know Me, and you know where I am from. Yeshua was using sarcasm. He let them know they really didn’t know Him or where He was from. I like sarcasm, and it’s nice to know that Yeshua could be sarcastic.

He let them know that He was God’s Representative. I am not here on My own authority. Why wouldn’t they welcome God’s Ambassador on Earth? Why wouldn’t we?

He claimed that God, who sent Him, is true. But He who sent Me is true. Why wouldn’t they receive the true Representative of the true God, who only speaks the truth and does what is true? Why wouldn’t we?

In contrast to Himself, Yeshua told the people, including the leaders, that they were far from God. You do not know Him. Again, Yeshua proclaimed delightful truths, but also confronted people with their sins that needed to be corrected.

In contrast to the people, Yeshua was close to God, knew God, and had a heavenly origin. But I know Him because I am from Him and He sent Me. Why wouldn’t the people want to believe Someone who really knew God, Someone whom God sent from Heaven? Why wouldn’t we?

Yeshua’s claims about Himself, combined with His perceived insults, was too much for the leaders. At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. God knows how to protect those who belong to Him so that they do not die a minute too early. May God give us the grace to believe that. Amen?

Again, people had mixed opinions about Yeshua. Unlike the leaders, some believed in Him. Still, many in the crowd believed in Him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will He perform more signs than this man?” And they were right. Ordinarily, God only allows someone very close to Him to do a miracle. Yeshua’s many miracles were evidence that He was close to God and therefore His claims about Himself should be believed.

One group of leaders did not like what they were hearing. The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about Him. They teamed up with the leaders of the temple. Then the chief priests (religious and political leaders) and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest Him.

The courageous young Rabbi, who was under divine protection, continued teaching, even though guards were there to arrest Him. Yeshua said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent Me.” God the Father had given Yeshua knowledge about the future. He knew that He would be killed soon. He knew He would return to Heaven and to the God who sent Him to Earth.

You will look for Me, but you will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come. You will look for Me: “Me” should be understood to mean the Messiah. Yeshua told them that they were rejecting the true Messiah and would look for the Messiah but would not be able to find the true Messiah. He would be in a place where they could not come, in Heaven, in the presence of God, because only faith in Yeshua, the true Messiah, enables people to enter Heaven.

As so often happened, the people misunderstood Yeshua. The Jewish leaders said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find Him? Will He go where our people live scattered among the Greeks (in the Diaspora, outside the land of Israel), and teach the Greeks? What did He mean when He said, ‘You will look for Me, but you will not find Me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” This dark and sad prophecy has been the experience of the Jewish religious leaders for the past 2,000 years. Rejecting the true Messiah, who is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven, they look for another Messiah. And they are unable to enter Heaven. But that will change when Yeshua returns, full of power and honor, and saves us from destruction, and Israel looks on the one we have rejected and pierced, and acknowledges Him as the true Messiah.

Before we get to the last part of this chapter, we need information about the ancient water pouring ceremony. When the temple stood, every day during Sukkot, priests, Levites and worshipers went from the temple to the Pool of Shiloach (Siloam). After a golden pitcher was filled with water, they returned to the temple, where the water was poured into the altar. The water pouring ceremony was a prayer for God to send rain, so that after the dry summer, the new agricultural season would be successful. With that in mind, John wrote: On the last and greatest day of the holiday, Yeshua stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Yeshua promised that those who believed in Him would have their spiritual desires completely satisfied, like rivers provide abundant water to the plants and animals around them. Those who become loyal to Yeshua will be given abundant spiritual life from a source within them.

John let us know what Yeshua meant. By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Yeshua had not yet been glorified. Yeshua was promising that after His death and resurrection, His Spirit would be given to His followers, and the Spirit of God living in them in a new and greater way would produce abundant spiritual life in them. They would experience a close, personal relationship with the living God that would satisfy them forever. Who would not want that? So why wouldn’t the people want to come to Yeshua by believing in Him? Why wouldn’t we?

Yeshua’s words, connecting Himself to the prayer for water, were powerful. On hearing His words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet” – referring to the prophet like Moses mentioned in Deuteronomy 18. And they were right. Others said, “He is the Messiah.” And they were right. Yeshua is the ultimate prophet, priest, king and savior.

Some, lacking critical information, rejected Yeshua. Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” These people didn’t know that Yeshua was a descendant of David and was born in Bethlehem and had the qualifications to be the Messiah.

Thus the people were divided because of Yeshua – as they still are today. Which side of the divide are you on?

Some wanted to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him – not even the guards who were there to arrest Him, because He spoke so convincingly, and because it was not His time to die and God was protecting Him.

Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring Him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. Yeshua’s words were so powerful that the guards sent to arrest Him were too impressed with Him to carry out their orders.

The leaders were not influenced by the opinion of the guards. They proudly believed they knew the Scriptures better than anyone else, and knew that Yeshua was a false prophet. “You mean He has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in Him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law – there is a curse on them.”

Virtually all the leaders had rejected Yeshua and were ready to condemn Him to death – except one. Nicodemus, who had gone to Yeshua earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” Nicodemus had a open mind about Yeshua and wanted Him to have a fair trial before any verdict was made.

They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” The other leaders were confident that Yeshua couldn’t be a prophet because He came from Galilee, and no prophet came from the north. They were wrong. If they had been more careful, they would have discovered that Jonah came from the north (see 2 Kings 14:25). Also, they overlooked Isaiah’s prophecy of a great light that would first shine in Galilee, bringing truth and the presence of God to an endarkened Israel.

If the leaders were truly close to God, they would not have pre-judged Yeshua. And they would have been more careful to get all the facts about Yeshua; and they would have discovered that even though He was raised in the north, He was born in Bethlehem. But their unbelief, their pride and their dislike of Yeshua prevented them from treating Him fairly, and benefitting from His amazing life and ministry. May God prevent us from having those same attitudes, and making those same terrible mistakes. Amen?

Let’s pray:

Lord, there was so much confusion about Yeshua 2,000 years ago – and there still is today. Lord, clear up all of our confusion so that none remains.

Lord, help us to be willing to do Your will, so that we will be able to discern what teaching is from You, and what teaching isn’t.

Lord, give us courage, like Yeshua, to courageously teach people the pleasant truths, and also tell the world that its works are still evil.

Lord, thank You for the spiritual life that is possible to enjoy when we know Yeshua and receive His Spirit.